Pilot holes are clearance holes drilled in the surface. They are narrower in gauge than the shank of the screw. They have two important benefits. Firstly, they make the process of doing up the screw easier as there is less wood to be cut into by the screw. Secondly, they help prevent the wood splitting when the screw penetrates the surface.
File or grind distorted or blunt slot head screwdrivers to make the tip flat and square. The blade tip should fit across the full length of the screw slot.
When filing or grinding, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.
Don't use screwdrivers for anything but driving screws as the hardened steel of the shaft may snap.
Using brass screws
As brass is a soft metal, it's important to make a pilot hole in any material before a brass screw is driven in.
Take a steel screw of the same gauge and size and screw this in to form the threads.
Rub the brass screw along a candle to lubricate it, making turning easier.
Do not use too much force or the head will shear off.
For awkward tasks, such as fixing a screw at the bottom of a counter bored recess or in an awkward corner, it's worth buying a screwdriver magnetiser.
Rub the screwdriver up and down the tool to magnetise it and allow small fixings to be held while you position them.
You can also buy clips to fit on screwdrivers, holding the screw on the tip.